Chapter II.

6 Aug

Dijo received the letter from Cacique through the wagon drivers. He sent back word that he would be happy to construct the prismoids desired and have them transported to Lake Digit.

“He is adamant in his opposition to the new tyranny in Rocumbol. This new project will be his way of fighting back against it,” commented the wagoner upon returning with the glassmaker’s answer.

That was heartening news for the originating group in the far north. Their next goal was to win the support of the local population, who would provide aid and protection to them.

It was decided that Yie was to attend a series of meetings in different dorps to address the belowers who lived there.

The first was held in the small hamlet of Petai, only a few furlongs from the lake. Yie arrived after the fall of the heliac. He spoke to a small group gathered in a hut on the periphery of the settlement. They listened to his words with rapt attention.

“My dear fellow-believers, we are descendants of the some of the same type of ancestors as you are, those brought to Tegumen long ago by the Red Hats. They were to be the laborers and cultivators, settled in the valleys where crops and sheep could be raised. But the leaders of the migration did not foresee what the conditions were to be below the mountains. As a result of their ignorance, our predecessors did not know that they would be exploited, repressed, and frustrated. The dorps that our people built became their jails, their prisons. Today, we are the same as prisoners. Our lives go on in the darkness of night, with only a brief moment of twilight each day. We are people lost in a world of darkness.

“But is that our inevitable fate? There is one way out that has leaped before our eyes only recently. What if the period of light could be made both brighter and longer? What if the darkness were limited to only half of the daily cycle of time? What if new rays of hope appeared for us?

“Our work would then become different. New opportunities would open up for creative production. Heliac energy would be available and we could attempt to catch and apply it. A greater, more varied system of life would appear. There would be a scale of activity never experienced here before. All belowers could feel unprecedented optimism. Higher happiness and fulfillment. All these would belong to the majority of Tegumen dwellers.”

Yie paused a few seconds, then went on. The dorfers, waiting with expectancy, silently listened to hear more.

“Yes, my brothers and sisters, there is a way to bring the heliacal corpuscular to your valley. You know of the comparatively immense illumination above Lake Digit. My colleagues and I have a plan by which we can bring that same light to you on a horizontal level. This can have revolutionary results in the lives we live if it is harnessed and tamed.

“Think how it can change everything. A new energy would arrive to activate all of you. New possibilities and options, new industries and products will become practical realities. Life would take on a new coloring for all of us. It will not have the character displayed these many centuries down to today.

“Let us join together, let us unite so all our efforts can be combined. The future of the planet depends upon you. Unless we take action, things will continue the way they have for eons of time. Do not let that happen.

“I call upon all who hear my voice to become soldiers in an army of light, working and fighting for victory over darkness. It will be a battle for the shape of the future, nothing less than that.”

The listeners remained motionlessly still for a short while. Then, one villager rose to step forward to congratulate Yie. Another dorper followed him, then a third and a fourth.

There was no one present who failed to join the campaign for new light.

Led by Gui, Yie and Joa made trips deeper and deeper into the valleys to the west and east of Lake Digit, until they came to Lake Orteil. The terrain above the paths they took became rough and densely wooded. The pineries grew thicker. Wherever the three went, the belowers who heard them accepted the message they brought. Even the most conservative and traditional of the elderly agreed to help in the building of light screens that contained prismoids.

It was at the dorp called Besoin that the first trouble befell these evangelists of greater light. The small settlement, in the shadow of tall Enfer Mountain, was the scene of a confrontation with dangerous overtones.

A squad of four Red Hats stood at the door of the cottage where the dorpers had been listening to Yie and Joa present the program they were inviting the locals to join and support.

The two speakers, escorted by Gui, were preparing to leave when the door swung open and the four highlanders strode in. All eyes fastened on them.

The first Red Hat to enter spoke for the others.

“What is going on here? It appears to me that a number of strangers have arrived here in Besoin and are holding some sort of meeting with all the inhabitants. What is the business of these outsiders? What is their craft or trade? We have to find that out at once, because the Hegumen of Enfer claustrum is alarmed by this unusual activity. He demands to know the nature of what is going on. Is anything being bought or sold between the dorpers and these visitors? He demands to know the nature of any such exchange. Is there anything transpiring against the interest of the conventicle community on the summit of Enfer Mountain? Tell me what I have come here to find out. The truth about these activities must be revealed. There can be no secrecy on such an important matter.”

Silence fell throughout the large room that took up most of the cottage. Uneasiness rose among all present. The mood grew tense.

At last. Gui took the initiative of answering the Red Hat.

“Let me introduce myself. I am the owner of the guest hotel on Lake Digit. My mission in Besoin is a very simple one. Let me explain it to your satisfaction, so that this inquiry of yours can be ended.

“I have guests staying with me from far away who have never been in or seen a northern dorp. These two with me tonight are interested in the folk traditions of the belower people. They asked me to take them to some interesting place where they could converse with and ask questions of northerners. I decided that there were few locations as picturesque and quaint as Besoin. So, the last several hours my customers have been talking with these dorpers about folk customs and traditions.”

The leader of the Red Hats stared daggers at Gui, then turned his eyes on the other two. He looked long at Joa, then addressed Yie.

“What do you take us for? Do you think we are idiots? We have had our eyes on your gang for some time. Visits to a number of dorfs in the region have occurred. Meetings that last for hours. What is being said, what is being discussed?

“Do not try to tell me lies. You must give the absolute truth at this moment, or else there will be measures taken at once. Do you understand?”

Yie looked back at him without emotion.

“What can I tell you? Gui has given you the truth. There is nothing I can add to what has already been said.”

The Red Hat’s rising anger and indignation boiled over.

“Very well, then. I gave you a chance to tell an honest account. We know that you are agitators, but cannot determine the exact nature or the purpose of your activity. So, I must now take the three of you into police custody.”

“Custody?” reacted Yie with genuine shock. “What do you mean by that?”

“The three of you will be escorted to the peak of Enfer, to our claustrum. The purpose is your questioning and interrogation under the Hegumen’s direct control. Do not blame anyone but yourselves for this. It has become necessary because of the criminality of what you have been doing. The responsibility for all this is yours, not ours.”

No one replied to the Red Hat’s statements.

What could anyone have said?

The three visitors exited the cottage as prisoners. They had no idea what was going to happen to them in the immediate future.

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